Research Design Service: West Midlands

How can we help?

The Research Design Service is designed to help researchers at all stages of preparing grant applications With our three hubs based in Birmingham, Keele and Warwick, RDS WM is ideally placed to help your research team plan an effective study.  Our network of specialist advisers will be able to help with all aspects of preparing grant applications including:

  • Refining your research idea and formulating your research questions
  • Getting the right methodology for your study
  • How to  structure your grant application
  • Identifying the resources required for a successful study
  • Regulatory and ethical issues
  • How to write a lay summary
  • What Patient, Public and Carer Involvement is, and how best to incorporate this
  • Building an appropriate research team

You will be allocated an RDS WM adviser who will take the lead on your enquiry and work with our other staff who have complementary skills.  RDS WM also has a wide range of academic and clinical contacts we can call on for any additional help if required.

How the RDS and CRN can support you read our flyer

For further help please use our Support Request Form

When should I contact RDS WM?

Although you can contact us at any stage of your proposal, early contact is preferable.  Researchers who are at the initial stages of designing their study should contact RDS WM as early as possible, ideally six-months in advance of an intended submission date. At this early stage we can also give guidance on incorporating Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) to substantiate the importance of the topic and the research question and then input into the study design. We may also be able to provide financial support for this activity from our public Involvement Fund.  Between 6 to 8 weeks before the submission deadline will normally give us enough time to give you comprehensive support and allow us to identify enhancements to the proposal to improve your chances of success, 4 weeks before the deadline is normally the least amount of time that we'll need to help you.

Once you have used the services of RDS WM you are free to come back to us to request support again

Please complete our Support Request Form and we will get back to you.


RDS WM provides wide ranging support to researchers submitting health and social care proposals to recognised funding bodies.

You can access our service via this website by using our online support request form.  Shortly after submitting your request form you will be contacted by one of our advisers from your local team.  It may well be that they will be able to answer your questions and give feedback via email but they may deem it more appropriate to meet with you or your team. You are not limited to just one consultation; it may be that we will work with you over a long period to ensure that your bid has the greatest chance of success.

We also hold regular drop-in clinics at various hospitals across the West Midlands and surrounding areas.  These are good opportunities for you to meet with our teams and discuss your research ideas.

If you would like to get support from RDS WM please complete our Support Request Form.


Using a network of specialist advisers based at the partner institutions, RDS WM is able to advise on all aspects of designing a research study.  Additionally, the service can help identify suitable sources of funding for projects and foster collaborative links with established research groups in the West Midlands.

Our service can provide guidance on how to translate clinical observations into well-focused research questions.  Many of the clinical questions that have been presented to RDS WM require some preliminary work to determine prevalence, develop an intervention or assess its feasibility and acceptability.  Thus a considerable part of our role has been to appraise the presented evidence and rationale and give advice on how the proposed study should be positioned.

Studies using a trial design form a significant proportion of the requests that RDS WM receives.  Statisticians and health economists can provide consultancy and advice on the estimation of sample size, the choice of outcome measures, evaluation of cost-effectiveness and modelling approaches.  

Our expert knowledge of quantitative and qualitative health and social science methods also allows support on a range of other methodologies including, evidence synthesis, survey design and process evaluation, mixed methods and support of proposals that focus on patient and other stakeholder views and experiences.   We have provided expert input into projects that have investigated workforce issues and helped develop studies that will impact on health policy.

Resource dedicated to Patient and Public Involvement (PPI) has promoted active and meaningful involvement of service users, patients and carers into the design of research studies.

Information  Leaflets